Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Padawan Lost" (Ep. 3.21)

-- Without humility, courage is a dangerous game.

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I don't tend to be a huge fan of short stories, but there are a few that have stayed with me since I was first assigned to read them in school: "The Most Dangerous Game" is one of those. Of course, "The Most Dangerous Game" has been highly influential as a piece of literature and has spawned many movies and movies based on the idea of hunting "the most dangerous game." Predator may be the one that has been the most successful, at least in a pop culture sense. "Padawan Lost" is the Star Wars entry into this theme and, I would say, owes a lot to Predator, too.

So who is the most dangerous game in the Star Wars universe? The Jedi, of course. And who are the people who use them in a Predator-like manner? The Trandoshans. But not actual, full Jedi, because they are too dangerous. They just go for the kids, instead, the younglings. They, of course, count those as Jedi kills.

In case you don't know, youngling is the lowest level in the Jedi Order, followed by Padawn. Ahsoka is a Padawan, but she's young for a Padawan due to her exceptional skill. It's no surprise, then, that Ahsoka is mistaken for a youngling by a Trandoshan hunting party and captured. Right in the middle of a battle.

Of course, Anakin has no idea what happened to her. She's just... gone.

And Ahsoka finds herself, well, not quite alone.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dream a Little Dream... Or a Big One

Do you have a "dream"?
Do you even know what that is or what it means?
Is it a dream or a fantasy?
Yeah, I want to make a difference between those things.

But first:

I've been doing this a while, now, the whole author thing and, with it, the blog thing. I've changed the way I blog since way back in the beginning when I used a lot of my time to go and search out other blogs and be very interactive in the whole blogging process. It's time consuming, and I got to a point where I had to ask the question about what my dream was: Was it to write or was it to blog? But that's beside the point, though worth noting. The short of that was that I changed the way I blog, and I no longer go out searching for new blogs by other authors to get involved with.

The point of me telling you that is that I want to note how few blogs show up in my blog feed each day, now. Back when I was being heavily involved in blogging, there would be dozens of blog posts in my feed each day. It was seriously difficult to keep up with. When I changed the way I blogged, I didn't stop following people (even if I did stop visiting all of them), so all of those posts still showed up in my feed each day. Now, though, today, there were only two new posts in my feed. Monday, the heaviest day of the week, there were only eight, and there were none from Saturday and Sunday. [All of these numbers are as I write this on Tuesday, August 16.] Days without posts used to never happen. Never.

Sure, some of the missing people moved onto other platforms (InstaTwitter or whatever), but many of them just gave up on writing. Probably most of them. Okay, actually very certainly most of them. If I go down my list of people who no longer blog, most of them no longer do anything. They just quit.

And that is because of the difference between a dream and a fantasy.

For our purposes, we're going to call a "dream" something you yourself can accomplish.
We're going to call a "fantasy" something that happens to you.

So you can have a dream of buying lottery tickets, but any thoughts of winning the lottery are fantasies. Winning the lottery is not something you can achieve; it can only happen to you. Likewise, you can have a dream of being a writer (because you can sit down and do that), but you can only have a fantasy about being a rich and famous writer. You can be the best writer in the world and never become rich and famous because, as with the lottery, that is mostly luck. Maybe completely.

The problem is that it's easy to subvert your dream with the fantasy. Those things can be easy to confuse. When you believe your dream is the fantasy, you can become disillusioned. I know of several writers who quit, just gave up on it, because, after publishing a couple of things, they didn't become household names. It was crushing to them, and they just quit writing. They had a fantasy of becoming rich and famous and allowed it to take the place  of their dream. That's a dangerous thing, allowing your fantasy to squash your dreams.

How do you deal with that kind of thing?

Well, the first way is to identify your dream and recognize the fantasy for what it is.

However, it is perfectly reasonable to have a dream of being "rich," but you need to identify that as your dream. Your actual dream. If that is your dream, you need to choose a path that enables you to work toward that as a dream and, let me just say, writing is a poor path to riches. Pun totally intended. You could even choose fame as a dream, I suppose, although fame is a very elusive thing, and you need to find avenues that lead to that more readily than writing. I would suggest giving Will Smith a call. Evidently, he followed a very specific plan to get to where he was in the 90s.

Now, I want to take all of this back a step farther: What is your real dream? I mean, writing is my dream, but there is a deeper dream, Let's call the dream the "deep magic," but there is a "deeper magic," the thing that supports the dream. That dream for me is the dream of leaving something behind. Something lasting. Something for my kids but also something that goes beyond just them and, in one way or another, everything I have done in my life has worked toward that.

Let me put it another way:

My grandfather was a great man. I'm going to go into why that is because 1. it would take too long and 2. it's unnecessary to what I'm going to say. He was a great man but, once I and the rest of his grandchildren are dead, there will be nothing left of him. Nothing beyond a notation in a genealogy file somewhere. And a birth certificate. Nothing that anyone will ever take note of in the future. Even the farm he poured his sweat into and the house he helped build are all gone now, burned to nothing in the wild fires that swept through East Texas a few years ago.

I don't know what kinds of dreams my grandfather had; he was more than a little laconic. But it makes me sad that he will be forgotten one day. I want to leave something behind, and my writing serves that dream.

It's not that I have a dream of being the Shakespeare of the age. Or, even, the Tolkien. Or, even, the Lewis. But I would be more than happy with being a MacDonald. See, you people don't even know who that is, do you? Here, I'll help: George MacDonald. See, it doesn't matter how unheard of he is for the most part, because his books are still out there and he still influences people. Probably in more ways than we can even imagine.

So, yeah, I choose the dream of writing to fulfill the dream of leaving something behind that lasts. And, well, if fame and riches follow, well, that's a nice fantasy, but it has nothing to do with my dream.

So what is your dream? Is it small or is it big? And can you separate it from fantasy?

"'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rebels: "Vision of Hope" (Ep. 1.11)

"...I have a feeling. Today's the day."
"Well, I have a feeling you're going to get stunned if you don't stay in the moment. This moment."

Ezra has his first vision. Visions of the future are all the rage, you know. Of course, visions are difficult, at least visions of the future are. As Yoda said, "Always in motion is the future." And there's the question of whether Ezra is just seeing what he wants to see.

But, anyway, our rebels are all alone, operating completely independently of any other groups and without any kind of funding or support. They're doing it because they hate the Empire and what it stands for. That does not, however, mean they want to be operating independently of anyone and everyone else. In fact, they really want to be tied into a larger network. And this episode brings them that hope...

We also get to see one of Ezra's cadet friends from that episode where he went undercover in the academy.

The series is beginning to have the feel of being an ongoing story rather than being a series of single episodes, so that's good.

"Wait. You know what I smell like?"

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Citadel Rescue" (Ep. 3.20)

-- Without honor, victory is hollow.

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I think fighting a Jedi is somewhat the equivalent of trench warfare during World War I. You just keep throwing more and more men at it until one gets through. Or gets an opening. Or a lucky shot. Or whatever. But sometimes they do fall.

There are two things of interest in this episode:
One is the continued discussion from the previous episode regarding the Jedi not really being suited for war. This is, of course, Tarkin's viewpoint. He believes that the Jedi Code folds them back from being able to achieve a true victory in many cases. Unsurprisingly, Anakin tends to agree with Tarkin. Obi-Wan's response is to question whether victory is worthwhile if you have to sacrifice your honor to attain it.

It's an interesting question, all of it, and it hearkens back to an earlier question about what good it does to maintain a stance of non-violence if it gets you dead. Which is the higher measure: keeping your honor or staying alive?

The second is a conflict over the information that Even Piell was tasked to bring back to the Jedi. In an effort to protect it, he shared the information between himself and Tarkin so that if one of them was captured, the information would be useless. You'd have to have both of them. The issue, then, is that once Tarkin has part of the information, he refuses to divulge it to anyone other than Palpatine. Did Piell have no inkling that this could be an issue? Tarkin never held back about his feelings about the Jedi, so sharing the info with Tarkin seems to be a poor choice for a Jedi Master to make.

Okay, sure, it's probably just a plot device that the writers didn't think through all the way, but it does raise some questions.

Mostly though, as I said in the review for the previous episode, this arc is an action arc, and the philosophy is kept to a minimum.